Relieving the Bottleneck: An Investigation of Barriers to Expansion of Supervision Networks at Genetic Counseling Training Programs

Jordan Berg, Jennifer Hoskovec, S. Shahrukh Hashmi, Patricia McCarthy Veach, Allison Ownby, Claire N. Singletary

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


Rapid growth in the demand for genetic counselors has led to a workforce shortage. There is a prevailing assumption that the number of training slots for genetic counseling students is linked to the availability of clinical supervisors. This study aimed to determine and compare barriers to expansion of supervision networks at genetic counseling training programs as perceived by supervisors, non-supervisors, and Program Directors. Genetic counselors were recruited via National Society of Genetic Counselors e-blast; Program Directors received personal emails. Online surveys were completed by 216 supervisors, 98 non-supervisors, and 23 Program Directors. Respondents rated impact of 35 barriers; comparisons were made using Kruskal-Wallis and Wilcoxon ranked sum tests. Half of supervisors (51%) indicated willingness to increase supervision. All non-supervisors were willing to supervise. However, all agreed that being too busy impacted ability to supervise, highlighted by supervisors’ most impactful barriers: lack of time, other responsibilities, intensive nature of supervision, desire for breaks, and unfilled positions. Non-supervisors noted unique barriers: distance, institutional barriers, and non-clinical roles. Program Directors’ perceptions were congruent with those of genetic counselors with three exceptions they rated as impactful: lack of money, prefer not to supervise, and never been asked. In order to expand supervision networks and provide comprehensive student experiences, the profession must examine service delivery models to increase workplace efficiency, reconsider the supervision paradigm, and redefine what constitutes a countable case or place value on non-direct patient care experiences.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)241-251
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Genetic Counseling
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 1 2018

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2017, National Society of Genetic Counselors, Inc.


  • Barriers
  • Countable case
  • Efficiency
  • Expansion
  • Genetic counseling
  • Supervision
  • Workforce


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